Markby Robert M. Solomon
Having observed all that was happening in the temple (v. 11), Jesus returned the next day. He went to the most public area, known as the Court of the Gentiles, where a roaring trade was going on. The temple authorities had allowed such business-and gained from it. ″Approved″ animals for temple sacrifices were only sold in the temple. The money changers were busy making huge profits-special temple currency had to be used to buy the animals and to pay the temple tax (v. 15). Aflame with passion for God's name and glory, Jesus drove away the entire crowd of profiteers and overturned their tables and benches. He also prevented people from misusing the temple courts as a short cut to transport their merchandise (v. 16). It was high drama as God cleaned out the temple with divine anger.
Then Jesus taught the crowd, some of whom may have looked on with amusement as He cleaned up the abuse and ungodly profiteering in the Court of the Gentiles. Jesus quoted Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, repeating what God had said-His house would be ″a house of prayer for all nations″, meaning that Israel was supposed to lead the nations (Gentiles) to worship God. But the unfaithful people of God had turned the court into a ″den of robbers″ (v. 17) instead. Seeing who they were up against, the chief priests and teachers of the law, who had profited from the ghastly commercialisation of the temple, seriously plotted to kill Jesus (v. 18). They saw Him as a competition and threat.
Normally, leaves on a fig tree indicate that fruit is coming. On the way to the temple, Jesus cursed a fruitless tree that had fully leafed before the season for figs. It had given the false impression that it bore fruit when it actually did not. It represented what God's people had become-hypocritical and pretentious. The temple had its crowds but it was not bearing any spiritual fruit. The following day, the disciples saw the cursed tree ″withered from the roots″ (v. 20)-an object lesson of the consequences of stubborn disobedience and unfaithfulness, and a warning of impending judgment (the temple was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70). Then Jesus mentioned something about faith and fruitfulness. Faith in God can move mountains and is expressed in mountain-moving prayer (vv. 23-24). Such faith also produces the power to forgive others even as we are forgiven by our Father (v. 25). Faith produces fruit.
Are there examples today of how the church ignores its reason for existence and dabbles in commerce and other activities that distract it and destroy its mission? What will you do about it?
What sort of fruit is God looking for in us? How do we often sorely disappoint Him? Why is faith and obedience important in this?